The ten year old 3,500 ton freighter, Maldive Victory, struck the Hulhule Airport reef at full speed on Friday, 13th of February 1981.All the passengers and crew survived, and what was a disaster for the shipping company soon became a bonus for the local diving industry, which was crying out for a wreck dive to add to the established dives of North Male.
The cargo including two limousines and several thousand bottles of liquor where mostly recovered during a nine-month salvage operation that saw the wreck stripped of its cargo and anything else of value, though a few cassette recorders can still be seen on the deck. The ship sank in 35 metres of water and within moments sea life took up residence on this perfect artificial reef, the wreck lies upright on the sandy bottom with the bow facing north. The anchor hanging on its chain from the bow actually moves in the strong current.
The Maldive Victory, the most famous of Maldivian shipwrecks, was sailing to the Maldives capital, Male, from Singapore with a cargo of supplies for resort islands. When she sank panic spread through the island when it became known that the long awaited foodstuffs and the building materials were lying on the bottom of the ocean, and so a number of salvage teams quickly assembled, made up mostly of local divers but also by diving instructors from nearby islands.
They were successful in bringing a great deal of merchandise to the shore, but most of the goods had been ruined by contact with the salt water, and the financial loss was enormous. Sea water, which exerted so much pressure at the depth of 35 metres (115 feet), that corks were actually pushed back into the bottles, penetrated into thousands of bottles of wine and other types of liquor. Even two brand-new automobiles, which had been loaded onto the deck, were turned into useless hulks. Even today bits of scattered cargo are found in the hold of this 110-meter (360 feet) long wreck.
The sailors and the few passengers aboard managed to make their way to the landing strip, only about thirty metres (a hundred feet) away; all were rescued, and none were even injured. The freighter was only ten years old, and hailed from Singapore; the holds were full of merchandise, chiefly for the tourist facilities.The wreck of the Maldives Victory lies on the western side of the airport-island, Hulule, precisely near the first quarter of the southern side of the landing strip. The wreck lies parallel to the reef on the sandy sea bed at a depth of 35 metres (115 feet), upright and with the bowsprit pointing north.
The location of the wreck is marked by a buoy, to which boats can be moored. The powerful currents between Male’ and Hulule make it absolutely essential to use a line to dive and to return to the surface. Normally one starts from the main mast, which rises to a depth of just 12 metres (about 40 feet) beneath the surface of the water. Once the deck is reached, the superstructure serves as a shelter against the currents. The holds are wide open and one can easily swim into them. In the wheelhouse, there is nothing of any particular interest, since all of the ship’s technical fittings and equipment - such as the compass, helm and even the shipboard telegraph have disappeared.
For more than a decade now, the superstructures have been patrolled by a large school of batfish, while a number of barracuda hover above the deck; those who swim around the wreck are provided with an escort of humphead wrasses. Large schools of fusiliers dart through the water and you can encounter a large sea turtle sleeping at the tip of the bowsprit of the Maldive Victory.
Dives to the Maldive Victory can be classified as advanced dives. The depth of 25 metres (82 feet) on the deck, is no particular problem, but great caution, planning and experience are required in order to deal with the currents, which can be quite powerful at times. It is crucial to use lines along which to dive and to return to the surface.
Maldive Victory to Best Scuba Diving